5 evolution metrics for hospital supply chains: Gartner

The healthcare supply chain industry has evolved over the last 15 years in five significant ways, Eric O'Daffer, a Gartner research vice president, wrote in a Dec. 4 piece in Supply Chain Management Review

In 2009, when Gartner began its annual ranking of the top 25 health system supply chains, roles leading healthcare supply have grown in titles and governance. 

Here are five ways hospital supply chains have evolved over the last 15 years, according to Mr. O'Daffer, Gartner's research vice president in the organizational development and healthcare, life sciences team.

1. Hospital supply chains have matured since 2009, especially in regard to health system C-suite investment. Fifteen years ago, the title of chief supply chain officer in healthcare was nearly nonexistent, and now, chief supply chain officers account for "34% of the titles of top leaders in the healthcare supply chain." Also, supply chains have grown past only sourcing equipment to developing five-year strategic plans across the web of healthcare. 

2. Fifteen years ago, the health systems in Gartner's first supply ranking were all spending under $10 billion. Now, 50% of those systems are above $10 billion, with many spanning multiple states and spending more than $20 billion. As health systems swell in size, so do supply chain expenses. The hospital supply chain accounts for 36% of a health system's operating expenses, according to Gartner.

3. "Resiliency" is no longer an abstract term in supply chain management. Medical supply disruptions, such as the 2018 shortage of IV solutions after Hurricane Maria, "cemented the need for maturation." About half of the nation's health systems, or 56%, now have independent risk and resiliency teams. 

4. As supply chain service lines have fortified their presence in health systems, the digital supply chain involving robust analytics and metrics has grown, too. Within the next three years, 81% of supply chain leaders said the digital supply chain was a top-three priority.

5. Environmental, social and governance has matured into a qualitative and quantitative measure as healthcare increasingly values diversity spending, sustainability and community health.

Gartner will publish its top 25 health system supply chain list on Dec. 13.

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